Mama Grizzly on the Lookout

New Version based on feedback - changed crop, fixed grey tones,

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


This mama grizzly was about 100 yards away and she had two cubs with her. She spent most of her time grazing in the grass. This was taken in the spring of this year and I imagine she hadn’t been out of her den very long. Her cubs were either wrestling with each other or sleeping. Occasionally they would interact with mom a little. Every so often the mom would stop and look around to apparently make sure there wasn’t any danger around. This image was taken while she was checking out the photographers. She seemed very calm. I suppose she was used to people being around.

Specific Feedback

I would love to have general critique about the image. Obviously there was a lot of editing done to create this dark and I would love to get critique on what I could do better.

Technical Details

Canon R5 on tripod
Lens: Canon EF 600L F4.0 with 1.4 extender
ISO: 1600, 840mm, f/5.6, 1/1600sec
This image was primarily edited in Photoshop.

Hi Alexander. I have only just rejoined NPN so am a little out of practice giving a critique.
Overall I think it is a striking portrait and well matched to the theme. I like the framing. The bear is engaged and I think the contrast and sharpness of the head is well handled. I also like the highlights on the front legs.
My only comment is with the bears side. I appreciate that you want it to not compete with the face, however I feel that it is a bit too much low contrast middle grey. Just my opinion and certainly not gospel.
Still I think you have produced a distinctive portrait of the bear and it works great as a black and white.

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Thank you @mark28 ! I struggled with that feedback. I will explore fading it in.

This is an intriguing portrait of this grizzly, Alexander, that looks good as presented. Given that you’ve centered her head and made it notably brighter than the rest of her fur, I think that all fits together. I suggest trying a crop that mover her head up and to the right in the frame, for a more dynamic look…you might or might not like that. Slight dodging of the highlights in her out of focus fure would de-emphasize her face and stare, but I agree that you don’t want her fur competing for attention with her face.

Very compelling! You captured a very nice portrait and had a good idea to subdue the BG and bring out the face. My immediate reaction was the same as noted above, that the fur on the left could be burned down more elegantly. The lightest tones have gone a flat gray. Many ways to do it but a curve might work with the right end brought down a bit (but not this much, so the whites went too gray) and the left end up a bit, and the middle adjusted to give desired contrast.

I agree on a slight crop from the right and top. Maybe a little from the left.

The blacks have been crushed more than necessary to achieve the dramatic effect. I think you could push them a bit less, with careful watching of the histogram (maybe starting in the raw file), and still achieve a dramatic darkness. I couldn’t do anything with that on the JPEG so only made a clumsy attempt to show a little less flatness in the fur on the side. It’s not possible to recover tonalities much from a JPEG – or PSD. Raw is the place for the initial tonal work.

Thank you @mark28 @Mark_Seaver and @Diane_Miller for taking the time to critique my image. I love your suggestions and I hope to post a new version in the next day or so.

Yes, new version is much improved! Congratulations on the EP!! Well deserved!